Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - March 25, 2011

Put 'clean' into spring cleaning

Bay Area campaign offers tips that are good for the home and the Bay

Ready to purge your piles, wash your windows, or tackle the garden? Check out Baywise.org for an easy how-to for your spring refresh.

The Bay Area Pollution Prevention Group (BAPPG) is launching the "Put the 'Clean' Back into Spring Cleaning" campaign to encourage residents to choose non-toxic cleaning and pesticide products, identify simple water-saving opportunities in their home and garden, and locate nearby drop-off sites for hazardous materials such as old paint, motor oil and unused medicine.

To get the word out, BAPPG is showcasing a virtual home on its Baywise.org website with easy-to-reference, room-by-room tips. In addition, it is utilizing online ads, e-newsletters, social networking sites and activities, and advocating word-of-mouth among friends, neighbors and peers as they share home and garden tips with one another.

As Baywise.org illustrates, there are environmentally-friendly remedies to many of the disposal dilemmas we all face.

"Daily activities like cooking, gardening, tossing out old medicine, and even sprucing up your garage can take their toll on our families and communities if the right products or disposal practices aren't used," said chairwoman Sharon Newton. "This year, we want families to be informed about environmentally-friendly options, so we've provided a few tips that will help keep pollutants out of the Bay -- and toxic cleaners out of the home."

Every drop of water we flush, rinse or wash down toilets or indoor drains or allow into storm drains makes its way into San Francisco Bay either directly or via the sewer system. Wastewater travels from kitchens and bathrooms to treatment plants before being discharged to the Bay; however treatment processes cannot remove all the myriad chemicals found in toxic cleaning products, medication, paint and other consumer products that are all too often flushed down drains. Furthermore, in most Bay Area municipalities stormwater from garden runoff and car-washing enters creeks and the Bay directly, without treatment.

Cleaning products may help you tidy up your home and reduce germs, but they can also present several health concerns if they contain chemicals that can cause eye, skin or respiratory irritation, or other immune system and health impacts. Choosing cleaning products that have positive environmental attributes (e.g., biodegradability, low toxicity, low volatile organic compound (VOC) content) -- or even making your own home-made cleaners -- can minimize harmful health impacts and help keep the Bay thriving as well.

Check Baywise.org for easy home and garden tips and drop-off locations near you.

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